How to defrost a pipe

Winter is such a time of the year that not only brings unforgettable and joyful experiences from celebrating the New Year or skiing. Winter is a severe test, both for living beings and for all kinds of engineering systems that are created by man to improve their life. Low temperature tests directly touch the water supply. In cold weather, it happens that water pipes freeze. Therefore, knowledge such as defrosting pipes in winter and not being left without water at this time will be quite useful..


The need to defrost pipes

If you did not timely insulate the water pipes, then a situation may occur when the water in the pipes freezes. If you paid attention in time to the occurrence of force majeure with tap water, then this is not a reason for panic at all. There are many ways, including “folk”, how to defrost a water pipe with your own hands.

For trivial reasons, water pipes freeze: incorrect pipe laying technology (for this area, the freezing depth is not taken into account or the pipes are not insulated), as well as the lack of heating in the room. Also, the reasons for the freezing of the system may be as follows: very small volumes of water are transported through the pipes, or the pipes are operated at very low temperatures.

It should be borne in mind that defrosting pipes that are laid in accessible places does not cause any special difficulties (for example, they only need to be warmed up with the help of an ordinary household hair dryer), but some difficulties may arise with defrosting pipes during underground laying. It’s pretty good if the pipes are frozen at the entry point, since you can simply heat the walls. But often the freezing point is located a few meters from the building..

The issue of defrosting pipes is solved with the help of improvised means that are available in every home: a blowtorch, an electric heater, a professional construction hairdryer (you can also use a hair dryer). But before considering options for defrosting water pipes, you need to understand a few useful tips..

The defrosting process is quite simple if the pipes are metal. For this purpose, we take a conventional welding machine and connect it to different ends of the pipe. This simple method eliminates such a problem within 3 – 4 hours. The longer the frozen pipe section, the longer the defrosting process takes. But today, mainly PE pipes are used in water supply networks, which are made of high-density polyethylene and can withstand pressures up to 10 atmospheres..

They are not destroyed by freezing and are not subject to corrosive processes. Polyethylene, by its properties, does not act as a conductor of electric current, and this suggests that it is impossible to defrost using a welding machine. Removing ice plugs with a steel rod is also fraught with damage to the pipe..

Traditional methods of defrosting pipes

To date, there are a lot of defrosting methods, so it is not difficult to remove ice from sewer or water pipes..

Outdoor heating

External defrosting of pipes has a very important drawback – it is necessary to open a trench in which the sewage system is laid. Digging the frozen soil itself (and it is, if the ice has formed in the pipe), it is clear that it is not the most pleasant activity. But still, if the size of the cork is not very large, then this method may be worth using..

After you have opened the trench, you need to look at the material from which the pipe is made. There is a difference in how to defrost plastic or metal pipes. In the first case, you need to use such electric heaters so that the temperature is not very high – up to 100-110 degrees. With all this, it also makes sense to cover the additionally excavated area with a decent layer of thermal insulation during the heating process, so the reverse side of the device will not heat the street, and the pipes will warm up faster.

For metal pipes, the method of using open fire is applicable through such equipment as gas burners, blowtorches, firewood, as well as any sources of flame with a long burning time. From such influences, the plastic can simply melt..

Internal heating

Defrosting sewer pipes, in comparison with water pipes, has certain nuances. On the one hand, the large diameter of such pipes offers significant advantages for internal heating. On the other hand, these pipes provide a fairly large volume of accumulated ice with frozen ground, and therefore a large contact area, which will lead to increased heat transfer from both external and internal heaters..

Before defrosting plastic pipes from the inside, you need to make a not very complicated device: fix a U-shaped heating element on a board with rounded edges. At the same time, it is required that the bend protrudes beyond the front edge of the board, other parts of the heating element should not protrude beyond its limits, so that there is no contact with the walls of the heater pipe.

Since its dimensions and distance to the plug are known, in order to defrost plastic pipes, it is also necessary to attach a wire of the appropriate length to the contacts of the heating element, and attach a small piece of metal-plastic pipe to the plate itself, which will act as a pusher.

From the side of the sinks, the entire structure is pushed in, because the slope of the sewage system is made precisely in this direction, from above there is simply nowhere to drain the melted water. In this case, the heating element is turned on into the network only after it is placed inside the pipe, and with each movement, as the plugs melt, respectively, it turns off.

Apparatus for metal pipes

The most effective way to remove ice from a water pipe is an industrial pipe defrosting machine. But such a device is intended only for metal pipes; this technique does not apply to plastic pipes. The principle of operation of the device is quite simple and straightforward. Terminals are attached to the edges of the required section of the pipe that needs to be defrosted, then current is applied. After that, the pipe heats up and begins to thaw the frozen place.

When using an apparatus for defrosting metal pipes, the following data should be analyzed: a pipe up to 23 meters long and up to 6 centimeters in diameter is defrosted for up to 60 minutes. With a larger pipe diameter, it is necessary to install the terminals at a shorter length, and especially in the area of ​​various tie-ins and measuring devices. When defrosting water or sewer pipes, it is necessary that water pressure be present in the system.

Unconventional ways to defrost pipes

In addition to traditional methods of heating pipes, we can offer you three defrosting methods for polyethylene pipes, which are the “know-how” of our folk craftsmen. Regardless of some eccentricity, they still work. Their only drawback is that they are only suitable for pipelines that have a small diameter..

Hot water

When using this method, it must be borne in mind that the ice plug will not allow hot water to get inside if you pour it just like that. So it is necessary to find a way to supply hot water to the frozen zone. You can defrost a pipe using a pipe or hose with a smaller diameter. For example, if it is necessary to unfreeze a water pipe with a diameter of 25 or 30 millimeters, and the frozen segment is straight, then the use of metal-plastic pipes with a diameter of 16 millimeters will be more effective.

To begin with, we straighten the metal-plastic pipe, and then push it into the frozen pipe until it touches the ice. After that, through the pipe, we supply hot water to the place of freezing. The thawed water will pour out through the gap between the metal-plastic pipe and the water pipe. If you have a limited supply of water, then you can use the thawed water in the second circle, that is, heat it up and again send it to the place of freezing.

At the same time, the ice plug will melt, and you can continue to manually defrost the pipe and push the small metal-plastic pipe further. But if the section of the pipe, which is frozen, has turns and bends, it will not be possible to use a rigid metal-plastic pipe in this case. But you can take a hard hose.

It should be noted that an ordinary watering hose is not suitable for this, it will simply soften from hot water and it will be impossible to push it through. In such a situation, hoses for connecting a gas cylinder and oxygen hoses turned out to be effective. These hoses are quite stiff, but you can still push them from the input no more than 15 meters. In addition, such hoses are quite heavy and should be pushed in the pipe with great effort..

Esmarch’s irrigator

And now it’s worth figuring out how to defrost the pipe if ice has accumulated tens of meters from your house, and the pipeline itself has turns and bends. Still, there is an economical and effective way: for such purposes, you will need a set of a building hydro level, Esmarch mugs (banal enema) and hardened steel wire. Such a set has a low cost, and the farm has many of all its components..

First, you need to align the wire and the tube of the hydraulic level, and then screw the end of the wire to the hydraulic level with electrical tape. In order to ensure greater hardness at the end of the wire, it is necessary to make a loop. The wire itself should not stick out, and the end of the hydraulic level tube should protrude one centimeter in front of the wire. After that, the other end of the hydro level must be connected to Esmarch’s mug, and then push the wire with a tube into the water supply until it stops..

Due to the fact that the hydraulic level pipe has a small diameter and low weight, it moves quite easily through the pipeline, while overcoming all the turns rather simply. After that, we fill in hot water, making an “enema” for the frozen water supply. A container must be placed under the water pipe to collect the thawed water, because as much hot water is poured, the same amount will pour out cold.

Then we push the wire with the hydraulic level tube gradually as the ice melts. This method of defrosting pipes is very long, that is, you can defrost only up to one meter of the pipeline in an hour. This means that 5-7 meters of pipes can be defrosted from ice during working hours..

Using current

Consider the following situation when you have a frozen polyethylene water pipe 50 meters long, 20 millimeters in diameter, and the laying depth is up to 80 centimeters. It should be noted that such a depth for laying a water supply system is insufficient, therefore, the water supply system froze. Another distinctive feature is that the water supply is located under the roadway. In this case, utilities usually advise to wait for the thaw to come, but there is still a way when you can do without it..

You will need the following equipment: a plug for a socket, a two-core copper wire (we select the thickness and length of the section according to the diameter and length of the frozen water supply), a hose and a compressor for pumping out the thawed water. For example, for a pipe with a diameter of 20 millimeters, you can take a wire of 2.5-3 millimeters and an automobile fuel hose with a diameter of 8 millimeters, as well as an ordinary automobile compressor (you can, in extreme cases, use a pump).

We warn you that when using this method of self-defrosting pipes, you need to be very careful, because work is done using high voltage. And now all this needs to be prepared for thawing the pipes. It is necessary to remove the external insulation from a small section of the wire, divide it into two wires, remove the insulation from one of them, and carefully bend the remaining wire in the insulation in the opposite direction along the water pipe. In this case, it is necessary to ensure that the insulation is not damaged..

Further, practically near the bend of the wire, 3-5 turns of bare wire should be made (as tightly as possible to each other) and its remaining end should be cut off. After that, 2-3 millimeters must be retreated from the turns made, then – bare the second wire and wrap it around the wire in the same way. The turns of the first and second wire must not touch..

And on the other end of the wire we connect the “unit” and the plug (such a device is popularly called a “bulbulator”). If it is placed in water and connected to the power grid, then when the current passes through the water, a corresponding reaction occurs, in which a large release of heat occurs. In this case, such a device is ideal, because only water heats up, and the wires themselves remain cold, that is, plastic pipes do not even accidentally disappear..

This assembled device must be checked. For this purpose, it is recommended to send a device to a jar of water and connect it to the power supply. If a slight hum is felt, and bubbles leave the contacts, respectively, the unit is working. We remind you once again: while the device is working, then on contact with water, an electric shock may occur..

We continue to defrost the pipe on our own. The wire must be pushed carefully into the pipe so that it does not bend. Therefore, it is necessary to take a wire of a larger cross section. When the wire comes into contact with the ice plug, you must turn on the “bulbululator” and wait one or two minutes. After that, you need to try to push the wire further, because the ice began to melt.

When about a meter of the pipe is thawed, the melt water must be blown out with the help of a compressor, this is necessary to reduce the volume of heated water and so that the water supply system does not freeze again in the already defrosted areas. If there is special equipment, then it is advisable to weld a crane onto the pipe. When water flows through the pipe, the wire is not pulled out of it, but the tap is closed, so the place where the defrosting procedure is carried out will not be flooded.

How to prevent pipes from freezing

You’ve already figured out how to deal with ice in water pipes. But you can prevent this if you try. In order not to freeze plastic pipes, you must remember:

Thus, in winter, the owners of private houses are often faced with the fact that the water in the water supply freezes. In this situation, the main thing is to react in time and take the necessary measures. To defrost a water pipe, you can use traditional defrosting methods, using a pipe defrosting machine and using internal and external heating. Also, along with this, there are effective alternative methods, tested by folk craftsmen in practice..